Golf: Zander Culverwell hailed as shining example

Zander Culverwell's play has impressed some of the game's top players.  Picture: Kenny Smith

Zander Culverwell's play has impressed some of the game's top players. Picture: Kenny Smith

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CAPITAL star Zander Culverwell has been held up as a shining example of delivering the work ethic Scottish amateur golf is striving for as part of a squad shake-up

“Year in, year out Zander displays meticulous preparation,” said former European Tour winner Dean Robertson in picking out the former Lothians champion as the player who has impressed him most in recent seasons.

Culverwell, who lives in Edinburgh and is a Bruntsfield Links member though Dunbar is his home club, is on the golf programme that Robertson now runs at Stirling University and, during his time there, has seen his career blossom.

He recorded his first Scottish Order of Merit win in the Battle Trophy at Crail, lifted the Scottish Amateur title at Blairgowrie in August and, last week, helped Stirling add the European Universities crown to Scottish and British ones.

“Zander is a role model at Stirling, where he’s been appointed as the returning captain this term. He’s somebody the others look up to and is someone they are aspiring to be,” added Robertson.

He was speaking in Edinburgh at the announcement of the Scottish Golf Union’s 2013-14 squads, with Culverwell being named in the men’s one along with Craigielaw’s Grant Forrest and James Ross of Royal Burgess.

Tantallon’s Calum Hill is in the under-21 pool, while there’s also one Lothians representative – Dalmahoy’s Murray Naysmith – in the boys’ squad.

All but six of the 29 players in all three squads are 20 and under after the SGU responded to Eisenhower Trophy and Walker Cup disappointments over the last two years by deciding to focus on younger players.

They will also have to earn expenses to play in the big amateur events through performances in a conscious bid by the game’s governing body to get a hunger back in bellies.

“Players get into a squad, whether it is the boys’ or men’s one, and feel they’ve made it then want to turn pro,” said the SGU’s non-executive performance director, Stephen Docherty.

“If we’ve been guilty of anything, it is probably giving too much too soon but now we are knocking that on the head and trying to make the players hungrier again.

“I found myself asking Dean Robertson how do we create desire. We shouldn’t need to do that. It should come from within.

“It’s basically a case of them all wanting to be pro golfers and wanting to make millions. But it doesn’t matter if it’s sport or business you’re in, ‘I want’ doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to get. You’ve got to do more than that.”

Docherty, a high-flyer with Aberdeen Asset Management, added: “It is interesting to see players, even former Walker Cup players, out there on their own in the pro ranks without any protection and struggling. Even the best ones are taking four or five years.

“That’s not the SGU’s fault, even though we now agree that we have probably given them too much too soon. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy and I think we’ve got a good crop of youngsters at the moment.

“But performance programmes take years and the only real measure of whether they are successful or not is if you are repeatedly bringing players through.

“The idea is to teach the good habits early and as they grow and develop, the younger ones come through and say they want to be the next Ewen Ferguson, Bradley Neil or Andrew Coltart.

“I don’t care how old or young they are. It’s down to being good enough.

“I’m also not interested in blame; it’s about trying to fix the problem. It’s not a centralised coaching scheme where everyone sits on the range with the same coach and batters balls. It’s is too easy to blame the SGU. I’m not trying to be defensive by saying that as we share the responsibility. But there’s a lot more people need to be accountable.”